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Infrastructure bill could boost county transportation funding

Pres. Joe Biden

Newsom calls signing ‘historic’

By: City News Service

President Joe Biden this week signed a $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill into law, bringing billions of dollars to California for public transit projects, wildfire preparation, bridge and road repair, electric vehicle charging networks and more.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (METRO) CEO Stephanie Wiggins called the bill’s $9.45 billion for California public transportation projects “a game changer,’’ noting that its the “largest federal investment in public transit ever.’’

Wiggins said the bill will impact Los Angeles by doubling the size of the capital investment grant program to $4.6 billion, allowing the transit agency to expand its system to better serve the 10 million L.A. County residents. Wiggins noted a study that found that a vehicle gives residents access to 17 times more destinations than the transit system.

“So we’ve got to build out a rail network, this infrastructure bill will actually help us do that,’’ Wiggins said. She added that the bill will also improve the city’s bus network and facilities.

“What does that mean for L.A.? Well over 80 percent of our riders ride the bus. The buses are the backbone of our congestion relief effort,’’ Wiggins said.

“This infrastructure bill will help L.A. purchase zero-emission buses, it will help us establish the electrical infrastructure to operate these new vehicles. It also includes federal funding to expand programs that ensure that the air we breathe is clean for our communities.’’

Gov. Gavin Newsom praised the bill after it passed Congress on Nov. 6 as an “historic infrastructure package (that) stands to accelerate investments in our clean transportation infrastructure, help mitigate some of the worst impacts of climate change and accelerate new projects that will create thousands of jobs.’’

The state is expected to receive:

— $25.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs;– $4.2 billion for bridge replacement and repairs over five years;

— $9.45 billion over five years to improve public transportation options across the state;

— $384 million over five years to support the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network, with the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to electric vehicle charging;

— at least $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state;

— $84 million over five years to protect against wildfires;

— $40 million to protect against cyberattacks;

— $3.5 billion over five years to improve California’s water infrastructure and ensure clean, safe drinking water; and

— $1.5 billion for infrastructure development for airports over five years.